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Despite some big gifts, there's a shortage of green in Salvation Army's red kettles


It's the time of the year when the Salvation Army typically rings up donations that fund a share of its program throughout the year.

But this year, the Business Journal reports the Salvation Army is falling behind in the pace of donations that holiday shoppers drop into the traditional red kettles. A spokeswoman said the local nonprofit has raised $802,480 in kettle cash so far, compared to $1,039,000 at this time last year. The Salvation Army's goal for the Twin Cities is $3.4 million.

Spokeswoman Julie Borgen said a number of factors could contribute to the donation deficit, including "the early cold weather, and the fact that many people are carrying less cash than they used to."

A shortage of bell ringers, clothing donations

There are also fewer bell ringing shifts being taken this year.

While the Salvation Army has some 550 kettle sites around the metro area, only about one in 10 is staffed by a volunteer ringer this year, the Business Journal says. There were 330 bell ringers Thanksgiving weekend, compared to 450 last year.

The Duluth News Tribune reports a shortage of volunteer bell-ringers is slowing donations in the Twin Ports, too.

In a news release this week, the Salvation Army said volunteers are currently covering 66 percent of kettles. The goal is to have 80 percent covered.

It's not just cash donations that are down for the Salvation Army. WCCO Radio reports that clothing donations to Salvation Army thrift stores are critically low. The Salvation Army's Adult Rehabilitation Center in Minneapolis is 100 percent funded through store sales.

A spokesman said that donations typically bring in 3,000 pieces of clothing to be processed each day, but of late, that number has dropped to 500-700 pieces.

Still, some big donations

But not all the news is grim.

Two 1-ounce gold coins – each were more than $1,200 and wrapped in a bill – were dropped into Fargo-Moorhead area kettles this week.

The first one was dropped into a Red Kettle on Wednesday at a grocery store in north Fargo, Hornbacher’s Northport. The second showed up in a kettle at a Moorhead Hornbacher's.

The Salvation Army says this is the 12th year that a gold coin wrapped in a bill has been donated in the area.

In addition, the kettles in the Twin Cities have again been pleasantly surprised by mega-donations from an anonymous donor known as "St. Grand." The donor dropped $10,000 into a kettle outside a Lunds grocery store in Bloomington, making it the largest single cash donation ever to the red kettle campaign.

This is the fourth year in a row that a donor has made contributions of $1,000 or more to red kettles around Minnesota. Salvation Army officials refer to the person as “Saint Grand,” although they don’t even know if it’s just one person or more donating the money.

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